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Accepted Scientific Name: Nananthus vittatus (N.E.Br.) Schwantes
Gartenflora 1928, lxxvii. 68.
Origin and Habitat: Northern cape. South Africa.
Habitat: Grows usually in dry plains on fine loamy soils rich in lime, often overlooked by the dense grassy vegetation cover. The rainfall are predominantly in winter ( 300-400 mm/year).
Ecology: The mechanism of seed dispersal is through a higrochastic fruit and the seed is only dispersed in the immediate environment, which results in local small communities.
Nananthus vittatus (N.E.Br.) Schwantes
Gartenflora 1928, lxxvii. 68.
- Nananthus vittatus (N.E.Br.) Schwantes
- Mesembryanthemum albipunctum var. major Haw.
- Mesembryanthemum vittatum N.E.Br.
- Rabiea albipuncta (Haw.) L. Bolus
- Nananthus aff. broomii
- Nananthus aloides var. striatus (L. Bolus) L. Bolus
- Aloinopsis aloides var. striatus L. Bolus
- Nananthus broomii (L. Bolus) L. Bolus
- Aloinopsis broomii L. Bolus
- Nananthus cibdelus (N.E.Br.) Schwantes
- Aloinopsis cibdela (N.E.Br.) Schwantes
- Mesembryanthemum cibdelum N.E.Br.
- Rabiea cibdela (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.
- Nananthus transvaalensis (Rolfe) L. Bolus
- Nananthus tranvaalensis var. griquensis L. Bolus
- Nananthus tranvaalensis var. latus L. Bolus
Description: Nananthus broomii is a local or morphological form of Nananthus vittatus with somewhat smaller leaves, which is considered by Steven Hammer a distinct species. However it is quite similar to the latter and not easily separable by any important character from the other vittatus. The leaves take a brown or red colouring under stress conditions. It is very cold hardy.
Habit: It is a low, multi-branching, wrinkled, plant forming a mat with succulent leaves arranged in low rosettes and carrot like roots, will eventually form large caudex in time.It grows in a tuft like a little aloe, eventually closing in to form a mat covered with small daisy-like yellow flowers.
Roots: Tuberous, gorgeous, fleshy up to 18 cm long. The tuberous roots (often improperly considered a caudex) are very decorative and in many plants in cultivation are often raised above the soil. In seed raised plants, the “caudex” tend to be much larger and solitary (or few branched) while in plants which have been raised from cuttings, the tuberose roots tend to be thinner, and are more branched, eventually producing tangled masses of many fat roots.
Leaves: In 6-8 pairs, less than 3 cm long, 0,6 cm wide, 3-4 mm thick. They are opposite but of different lengths, spreading diagonally at most (Often erected under dry conditions) generally dark-green or dark olive-green, soft, ovate, lanceolate, sharpened on the top, keeled, the upper surface is slightly convex especially near the points, The adaxial and abaxial surfaces are rough and textured with fine warts (idioblasts) prominent in the upper leafs surface, sometime with a central channel.
Flowers: 2-2,5 cm in diameter, daisy-like flowers, yellow, straw-yellow or orangish flowers with a red stripe down each petal.
Blooming season: Winter.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Heidrun E. K. Hartmann “Aizoaceae F – Z” Springer, 2002
2) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass - Casuarinaceae to Aristolochiaceae” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
3) Hermann Jacobsen, Vera Higgins “Succulent Plants: Description, Cultivation and Uses of Succulent Plants, Other Than Cacti” Williams and Norgate, Limited, 1935
4) Jacobsen. “Handbook of succulent plants” 1960
5) H. Herre “The genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae” Tafelberg-Uitgewers Beperk, 1971
Cultivation and Propagation: Nananthus are easy and rewarding plants. They grow on winter rain areas and were heading for summer dormancy. Suggestions have been made to keep them cool, shaded and dry in summer. This species usually "wakes up" in mid-Fall. Water minimally in summer, only when the plant starts shrivelling. (but it is indeed a very adaptable species that can grow opportunistically in summer too if the water availability and growing condition are favourable). They need full sun or light shade on the other seasons.
Soil: Because of the tap root they need a highly gritty compost with much drainage.
Frost Tolerance: Nananthus will take a small amount of frost for a short time (it is reported to be hardy to at least -12° C). Keep cool in summer.
Comment: It has a gorgeous, thick root system and when it is potted up, the plant can be progressively raised over the ground so that some of the roots can be seen and is especially cultivated for their looks. Architecturally it is a real stunner. When the "caudex" shape of the raised roots is adequately in evidence this plant is incomparable. They also tend to grow more "heads" when they are raised.
Propagation: Cuttings or (rarely) seeds
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